Apple Cream Pie

March 31, 2009

Makes 8 Servings

1 unbaked pie shell
3 cups (750 mL) apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cinnamon
1/3 cup (80 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbsp (45 mL) butter, divided
4 oz (125g) light cream cheese
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
3 Tbsp (45 mL) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped, toasted nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180° C).
2. Place apples in pie shell and sprinkle with cinnamon.
3. In mixing bowl, combine granulated sugar, eggs and 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of the butter until creamy.
4. Add cream cheese and vanilla and blend until smooth. Pour over apples.
5. Combine brown sugar, flour, remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter and nuts, if using. Sprinkle over pie and bake for 1 hour.

Courtesy of BC Tree (http://www.bctree.com/recipes/index.php)

Per serving:
Calories: 312
Carbohydrate: 25 g (41%)
Protein: 4 g (8%)
Fat: 10.5 g (46%)
Fibre: 1.7 g
Sodium: 142 mg

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In the small, out of the way place that once was the Aurora Bistro now sits The Wallflower, owned by couple Matt and Lisa Hewitt. It’s only been open since the first of the year, and, sadly, Lisa and Matt are “headless” in the chef department. Headless, but looking to be headed.

When I spoke with Lisa, she told me this was really a family affair, right down to her participation cooking on the line. She also told me that the menu, in fact, taps into her motherly wisdom. I have a mother and she fed me well, so, in my opinion, this is a good thing. As for selling this brave concept to the rest of the “trendy” Vancouverites, I fear this might be a bit of a battle. But I really believe that her biggest advantage is being somewhat “out of the way” of the firing line of those snootier than thou. That curse I wish on no one.

The first thing I noticed about The Wallflower upon visiting was the interior; nothing crazy or trendy, just a cozy little spot that’s both warm and inviting. The seating was comfortable, and the ambiance rather tolerable. Aside from the giant Plasma above the bar playing cartoons silently, at no time did I feel uncomfortable in any way. As a matter of fact, there are flowers on the wall; it’s not just a name! My wife and I were there to meet friends who know enough about restaurants to tell between good and bad, but not much more. They had ordered drinks by the time I arrived, so the “help” had been not much more than a casual nuisance at this point.

We ordered. My wife and I shared their rendition of the classic duck spring roll. The dish came promptly, and while warm and not too soggy, I noticed the blandness was a bit overpowering. It was simply there not hurting anyone, doing its job quieting hunger to a dull roar, but nothing really beyond that. The sauce had a bit of zip to it, but all in all not much more. I felt that it may have been pre-made or some sort of dressed-up Sysco creation, which I might add isn’t a bad thing. Most good barbecue sauces have some sort of store bought goodness to help them become a much finer creation, but I would say in this case the bottled sauce was the creation. And by that I mean nothing struck me out the ordinary, keeping in mind it’s just a sauce.

My main course was fish and chips. Yes, the classic British delicacy and, once again, not bad. They offered one and two piece selections of their finest halibut dipped in a rather bland beer batter served with fries and tartar. I found the batter a fairy typical mix of beer, flour, S&P, and the fries possibly store-bought; again nothing to rant and rave about. All in all, I found no error in the method of culinary expertise as far as proper temperatures and preparation etc. In fact, the dish was quite tasty, and I rather enjoyed in as a whole. It showed general care and effort in its creation.

The rest of the table’s food was much the same. My wife had some sort of wrap, what kind escapes me. I do remember that when I asked about her food she merely shrugged and turned to the large flat-screen T.V. to avoid any more harassment on the subject. I’m assuming it was fairly typical blandness fused with nothing of any consequence to the art of culinary expression; just generally good food. And that’s it.

As for the service, I could tell that we were experiencing an unqualified and unprofessional anomaly of a server, who had managed to schmooze his way in to a position with this unsuspecting establishment. His banter was a mix of profanity and awkward silence reminiscent of an episode of the Office. He may have single-handedly ruined the whole dining experience had the food not been ok….at best. I have to admit I do not plan to make this review a bad egg to spoil the bunch. And in light of the fact that Lisa and Matt have worked hard to see this venture succeed (that much is very clear just on sight), I will not discredit their establishment over one hired help’s arrogantly condescending nature. All this aside, it was my first impression. Unfortunately, it was not a great one. I’ll leave it at that.

A member of our party had a hankering for desert and ordered off an ever changing desert menu that would be difficult to put on paper because of its frequent alterations. Outside of the wait and the collection of profanity and tasteless banter that accompanied the item in question, I think that may have been the best part of the whole meal. I love a dessert menu that is made entirely in-house and changes every day. That my friends, is the stuff that dreams are made of. And made with great care, at that. When I tried a little taste, my response was an orgasmic roll of the eyes. 5 stars for my piece of apple pie goodness.

It’s obvious to me that after talking to Lisa, the server isn’t a reflection of their overall service. And Murphy’s Law was in full effect on this one. Let me say that it isn’t a bad restaurant. They showed me a lot in the learning curve department, but an almost equilibrium of potential in the success department. I mean that sincerely. The food, though somewhat lacking in taste and creativity, was prepared and presented well, and the price was right. I believe with a few tweaks here and there (and a better server) that success is right around the corner. That said, for a Tuesday night with a wallet on the light side and a stomach following suit, this is a solid place to get some “comfort” food. Hey, it could have been uncomfortable, after all…

The Wallflower Modern Diner

2420 Main St. (north of Broadway}

604-633-9588

Vegan Quesadillas you ask?  This only scratches the surface of what can be done without meat or dairy.  21st century vegans enjoy a quality and diversity of food that even 10 years ago could only be dreamed of.  Here’s a dish to give you the idea.

Vegan Quesadillas:

1 15-ounce can of chick peas

1/2 cup water-packed roasted red pepper

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon tahini

1 garlic clove, peeled

1/4 teaspoon cumin

8 corn tortillas

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2-1 cup salsa

1.  Drain the beans and place in a food processor or blender with the next five ingredients.  Process until very smooth, 1-2 minutes.

2.  Spread on a tortilla with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the garbanzo mixture and place in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Sprinkle with chopped onions and salsa.

3.  Top with a second tortilla and cook until the bottom tortilla is warm and soft, 2-3 minutes.  Flip and cook the second side for 1 minute.  Remove from the pan and cut in half.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

And Enjoy!

Healthy Flax Muffins

February 28, 2009

Courtesy of Northern Cookbook!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup ground flax seed
2 TBSP whole flax seed
3/4 cup oatmeal (not the quick version)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt ( I used No Salt substitute)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins (any kind)
1/8 cup walnuts (optional)
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup skim milk

Instructions:
Move the oven rack up one level so it is almost in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix together all the dry ingredients, including the sugar. Stir in the cranberries and raisins. Add the eggs, applesauce and milk and stir just until moistened. Do NOT overstir or your muffins will be tough. Spoon the batter into paper-lined muffin tins. Only fill 3/4 full. If using walnuts, sprinkle a little on top of each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops spring back to the touch.
Makes 18 muffins.